Happy Tuesday! What a whirlwind of a weekend! Thank you, everyone, for your support of Baby Grand. It’s been an amazing ride so far, and it’s just begun. :) And now on to today’s featured debut author, Hemmie Martin, whose book also premiered this month. Congrats, Hemmie!
Name of Book: The Divine Pumpkin
Date of publication: May 2012
Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing
Do you have a day job? Most of my professional career has been spent as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Nurse working with young offenders. I now write full-time whilst running a family home.
What is your book is about? The novel is about a forensic nurse, Paloma Parker, who is successful in her career, but is incapable of finding a meaningful relationship. She begins working with an incarcerated juvenile, Ella, whom she discovers has a connection with her, but it is only understood when Paloma’s family secret is revealed. Paloma searches for love and Ella searches for inner peace, and the pair may just hold the key to each other’s very different kinds of freedom.
Why did you want to write this book? I have always used some form of writing as a therapeutic release, and when the idea for this book popped into my head, I had to run with it. In Britain, young offenders are often stereotyped as thoroughly bad teenagers, but in my experience of working with them, there were many sad cases, and also some nice teenagers who had taken the wrong path.
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? I have an idea for how the novel will begin and end. However, after around 40,000 words, I can sometimes find I’ve lost the direction and have to retrace my steps from the beginning. Self-doubt can creep in and sabotage my writing and my confidence until I find my way once more.
Did you conduct any research in order to write this novel? I knew the role of the forensic nurse, as that was my last job. I also had a lot of experience working with young offenders/juvenile delinquents in and out of the prison system, and I drew on many of the cases to flesh out Ella’s character and the other girls in the prison.
What motivates you to write? The desire to produce a story that I hope people will want to read generates my desire to write. I don’t want to sound trite, but writing does tend to make me feel fulfilled.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? I do occasionally run up against a brick wall, and I will remedy this by having a break from writing whilst periodically jotting ideas down that occur to me. I will not punish myself mentally for the lapse in inspiration; instead, I occupy my mind by reading, writing my blog or reading blogs of other writers. At other times, I just write even though I’m aware that I’m writing scenes I will most likely delete later, but far better to have bad words to work with than just a blank page to stare at.
Was it difficult to secure a publisher? I mainly searched via Twitter, the internet and The Writer’s Handbook. One day, Winter Goose Publishing followed me on Twitter, so I checked out their site. They were accepting submissions, plus running a competition. I was considering entering the competition, but in hindsight, I’m clearly delighted that I went straight ahead and submitted my manuscript instead.
Did you consider self-publishing? Indeed, I did. My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas 2011 as I had decided to self publish in 2012. I researched the process and even found someone to produce a book cover for me. However, thanks to my publishing contract, I had no need to follow that route, although one never knows what the future holds.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about writing a book? I believe that people who have never written a book think that the book is written once before publication. I think the idea of rewrites and editing, with and without a professional editor, is far from their mind. Writing a novel is an evolving process, where characters can sometimes dictate and put their own ideas on the page, something I only discovered after years of writing and listening to the characters in my head.
What has been your favorite aspect of writing a book? I love it when I have written the first draft, as the story is already there for me, and I just have to find the right words to tell it better.
How do you go about promoting your book? I opened a Facebook account and a fan page, which is still in its infancy. I was already on Twitter and had a blog, which followed my writing journey. I searched Twitter for potential bloggers who would interview me and offered to do the same thing in return. Winter Goose Publishing also gave me pointers, and they promote me in tandem.
I would advise other writers to follow a similar route; to always be polite when conversing with other writers, to support and help other writers – there are enough readers to read all of our books – and to visit local book shops to see whether anyone would be interested in hosting a book signing and selling your books. Although this has been said innumerable times, never ever give up the dream of being published.
Do you plan writing another book? I am already 75,000 words into the first draft of my next novel. I always need to have some writing project on the go.
My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? On the whole, I would agree with Oprah, although there was an element of luck in that Winter Goose Publishing found me on Twitter first. However, I have spent the last four years writing three novels which will never be published, plus keeping a positive outlook after receiving numerous rejections. I persisted with submitting my manuscripts as I believed that somewhere down the line, someone would want my work. If I had given up, I would never have seen my novel in print. No one was going to do all the running for me – I had to be self-motivated and keep writing my blog, using social networks, but most of all – keep writing.